June 6, 2020
By Seth Wallace
Earliest case claims abuse at St. Paul’s in 1945
A deluge of lawsuits filed against the Diocese of Syracuse under the state Child Victims Act allege a long-standing, secretive and effective system for concealing clergy sex abuse.
Hundreds of cases are pending against the diocese, which last week filed for bankruptcy in the face of the overwhelming legal battle. Multiple complaints allege sexual abuse of children by priests associated with Oswego parishes. For this story, The Palladium-Times editorial team spoke with attorneys for the alleged victims, reviewed hundreds of pages of court and diocese documents and aggregated credible information from community members who claim to have knowledge of the situation. The names of all alleged victims are being withheld with identities redacted and replaced by the terms “the victim,” “the plaintiff” or “the child” where applicable.
The cases differ in decades, institutions and individuals but many components follow the same sad pattern: an underage male, involved with the Catholic Church through schooling or worship, is sexually abused by a clergy member.
“The Diocese of Syracuse knew for decades that its priests, clergy, religious brothers, religious sisters, school administrators, teachers, employees and volunteers were using their positions within the diocese to groom and sexually abuse children,” reads the opening of one complaint alleging abuse that began more than five decades ago.
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